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Congress approved a budget deal early Friday, hours after a deadline passed forcing a partial government shutdown, the second in a month. The House passed the two-year agreement shortly after the Senate did, clearing the way to end the hours-long shutdown. The Senate vote was delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a protest against $300 billion in new military and non-defense spending over two years, but Paul's call for an amendment maintaining existing budget caps was denied. The measure had not been considered a sure thing in the House. Republican fiscal conservatives were upset that it will add to the deficit, and Democrats wanted to add protections for young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that the U.S. would not deport undocumented immigrants serving in the military after being brought to the U.S. as children. Mattis said he confirmed with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that DREAMers will not be subject to deportation proceedings if they are on active duty, in the active reserves, or enlisted and waiting to start boot camp. He said veterans honorably discharged also would be protected. "We would always stand by one of our people," he said. The only exceptions are those who have committed a serious felony, and those who already have received a final deportation order from a federal judge.
A U.S. bill that encourages reciprocal visits by U.S. and Taiwanese government officials threatens stability in the Taiwan Strait and the United States must withdraw it, according to China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday. The bill passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week and will now move to the Senate. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. China regularly says Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in its ties with Washington. Beijing considers democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province and integral part of “one China”, ineligible for state-to-state relations and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said though the clauses in the bill are not legally binding they are a serious violation of the “one China” principle. Taiwan has welcomed the bill, which would allow senior U.S. government officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts. The passage of the bill by the committee shows the strong bipartisan support to deepen two-way exchanges and interactions of officials from both sides, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Stocks struggled to stabilize Friday as investors sent prices climbing, then slumping in unsteady trading a day after the market entered its first correction in two years. The up-and-down swings came a day after the market entered a correction or a drop of 10 percent from a recent peak. Major U.S. indexes set their latest record highs just two weeks ago. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped nearly 300 points in midday trading after surging more than 349 points earlier in the day. The blue-chip average suffered its second 1,000-point drop in a week on Thursday. Losses in restaurant chains, cruise lines, department stores and other consumer-focused companies accounted for much of the market’s decline. Industrial and energy companies also posted steep losses that outweighed modest gains in technology stocks and other sectors. Oil prices were also headed sharply lower. The slide in U.S. stock indexes followed a broad slide in global markets.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday told the International Criminal Court (ICC) to go ahead and investigate him for crimes against humanity and said he would prefer to face a firing squad than be jailed. However, the firebrand leader notorious for his defiance of international pressure questioned whether the ICC had jurisdiction to indict him over the deaths of thousands of Filipinos in his war on drugs. He denied ever giving an order to police to kill drug suspects. The ICC prosecutor said the preliminary examination into Duterte’s campaign sought to establish whether it had the jurisdiction and if crimes against humanity had been committed. About 4,000 mostly urban poor Filipinos have been killed by police in Duterte’s signature campaign that has alarmed the international community. Activists believe the death toll is far higher and accuse police of systematic cover-ups and executions. Police and the government dismiss that.
California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D), a high-profile #MeToo movement advocate, is under investigation herself after a former legislative staffer said she sexually harassed him at an Assembly softball game in 2014. Daniel Fierro, now operating a political communications firm, said Garcia cornered him, appearing intoxicated, and stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks, and tried to grab his crotch. A prominent lobbyist told Politico that Garcia tried to grope him at a 2017 fundraiser. Garcia said Thursday that the allegations "have never been brought to my attention until today," and that she had "zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values." The Assembly has hired an outside firm to investigate and Garcia promised full cooperation.
The White House went into damage-control mode on Thursday after facing criticism for its response to allegations of domestic violence against former top aide Rob Porter, who resigned this week. The White House knew about the allegations last year, but as recently as Wednesday, Chief of Staff John Kelly defended Porter as a "man of true integrity." As the nature of the alleged abuse was more broadly reported, Kelly said he "was shocked." White House spokesman Raj Shah conceded Thursday that the White House "could have done better" in dealing with the case in the days before Porter submitted his resignation. Shah said Kelly was not aware of the full story about the allegations because Porter's background check was still ongoing. Porter has denied the allegations.
A winter storm moving across the U.S. Great Lakes that’s forecast to drop about a foot of snow in some areas created treacherous driving conditions Friday, closed schools and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights. The National Weather Service issued winter-weather warnings and advisories across the upper Midwest. The snow that began falling late Thursday afternoon was expected to continue through Friday as the storm moves east. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city was gearing up for three more rounds of snow through the weekend after crews dealt with 6 to 7 inches overnight. About 750 flights were canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and about 300 flights were canceled at Midway, the Chicago Department of Aviation reported Friday morning. More than 200 flights were canceled at Detroit Metropolitan Airport by early Friday. American, United, Delta and Southwest airlines warned travelers to expect more flight cancellations to and from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics officially kicked off Friday, with fans braving the extreme cold to attend the opening ceremony. North Korea and South Korea were marching under one flag, setting aside recently rising tensions for what Seoul is billing as Games dedicated to peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister and close confidant, Kim Yo Jong, shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the ceremony, starting a three-day visit that is the first to the South by a member of the North's ruling family since the Korean War. Just before the opening ceremony, the North's senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, attended a dinner hosted by Moon that was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence, on hand to counter North Korea's charm offensive.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday denied the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches barred from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, hours before the opening ceremony. The athletes had asked to be invited to participate in the games even though they were not on the list of 168 Russians allowed to participate after being cleared of suspicion in Russia's doping scheme at the Sochi Games of 2014. The 47 athletes turned away included short-track speed skater Victor Ahn, who won multiple gold medals in Sochi and other Olympics. Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee refused requests from 13 other Russian athletes and two coaches barred from participating even though their lifetime bans for doping had been overturned.
San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Thursday reportedly signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension, becoming the highest-paid player in professional football. Garoppolo received $90 million guaranteed in the first three years, the biggest three-year paycheck in NFL history. The deal is all the more noteworthy because Garoppolo, 26, has just seven NFL starts under his belt. He spent his first three-and-a-half seasons with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, starting just twice. His average $27.5 million per season is $500,000 higher than the previous record set by Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford last year.
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